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Ten Things I Want Sufferers to Know About Anorexia

by Carrie Arnold, F.E.A.S.T. Advisor. Patient Advocate, Science Writer

March, 2010

  1. It’s an illness, not a choice. You don’t have anorexia because you’re a vain control freak on a mega-diet–anorexia is a biologically based mental illness.
  2. Food is medicine. You have to eat in order to get well. You don’t have to like this, and eating may make you feel worse at first. That’s okay. Keep eating.
  3. Anorexia often brings “friends” in the form of co-existing conditions such as depression and anxiety. Although it makes recovery more complicated, it doesn’t make recovery impossible. Staying healthy means managing both anorexia and any other mental illness you might have.
  4. Weight isn’t the measure of how sick you are. Not that weight and health have nothing to do with each other, but you can be very ill with anorexia and be at a “normal” weight. Remember, you can drown just as easily in six inches of water as you can in six feet or six miles.
  5. Anorexia is deadly serious. Eating disorders have the highest death rate of any psychiatric illness. The “best” anorexic is the dead one.
  6. There is hope for recovery. Many people with anorexia recover and go on to live happy, fulfilling lives…and you can be one of them.
  7. You will never be totally “ready” to recover. That’s okay. Most people aren’t- even those who have made a full recovery. Let someone else do the wanting for you until you can take over that job yourself.
  8. Keep your recovery in the present tense. By all means, put your illness behind you, but remember to stay vigilant about your recovery. This takes a lot of effort, but eventually it does get easier.
  9. There are no shortcuts. Recovering from anorexia means eating and gaining weight and being uncomfortable in your new body and new habits. There is no getting around this, the only thing is to get through it.
  10. Anorexia is your illness, not your identity.

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